An enthralling dive into trauma, mental health, and mother-daughter relationships.

THE SALT IN OUR BLOOD

Plagued by dreams and strange visitors linked to a tarot deck, Cat tries to uncover her mentally ill mother’s secrets.

Cat’s lived with Moony, her maternal grandmother, since her mother, Mary, dropped her off at age 7 with a secret deck of tarot cards. Ten years later, Moony’s death brings estranged Mary back into Cat’s life; she relocates her daughter from Moony’s small Louisiana town to New Orleans, where she works as a tarot reader in the French Quarter. Mary’s severe bipolar disorder has hurt Cat deeply in the past and is depicted in painful, no-holds-barred details. Cat worries about her own sanity, knowing the disease’s genetic component—and because she’s haunted by people resembling the figures from the tarot deck both in dreams and, sometimes, on the streets of New Orleans. With the help of Daniel, her handsome love interest, Cat seeks answers about the people she’s seeing and the inciting trauma that triggered Mary’s illness. She finds far more than she bargained for, learning about old family secrets and devastating crimes and tragedies that her mother survived. The discoveries are well paced, the setting enchanting. Cat, Mary, and Moony are painted as complex characters caught in a complicated dynamic; their believability anchors the otherworldly elements and provides emotional weight to the stakes and resolution. Cat and her family are White; Daniel is a multiethnic Black boy.

An enthralling dive into trauma, mental health, and mother-daughter relationships. (author's note, resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7227-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: AW Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Summery fun and games with feeling.

THE SUMMER OF BROKEN RULES

A summer trip helps break 18-year-old Meredith Fox out of a haze of mourning.

Her cousin’s wedding means a return to Martha’s Vineyard, a well-loved destination but one filled with bittersweet memories. It’s been a year and a half since the sudden loss of Meredith’s sister, Claire, and the grief remains strong. Meredith, though, resolves to take this time to celebrate family and bridge the rifts resulting from ghosting friends. She didn’t plan on a meet-cute/embarrassing encounter with the groom’s stepbrother, Wit. Nor did she expect a wedding-week game of Assassin, a water-gun–fueled family tradition. What starts off as a pact of sharing strategic information with Wit grows into something more as the flirting and feelings develop. Only one person can win, though, and any alliance has an expiration date. To win and honor Claire, who was a master of the game, Meredith must keep her eye on the prize. Taking place over the course of a week, the narrative is tight with well-paced reveals that disrupt predictability and keep the plot moving. Early details are picked back up, and many elements come satisfyingly full circle. The short time frame also heightens the tension of this summer romance: What will happen when they leave the bubble of the Vineyard? The mix of budding romance, competitive hijinks, a close-knit circle, as well as dealing with loss make for a satisfying read. The main cast is White.

Summery fun and games with feeling. (family tree) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72821-029-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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